Warner Bros. Discovery Ousts Top Diversity Exec Karen Horne

She is the latest senior executive laid off as the studio conducts massive restructuring

Karen Horne attends 2023 ESSENCE Hollywood House at Goya Studios (Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

Warner Bros. Discovery has laid off top diversity executive Karen Horne, a rep for the company confirmed to TheWrap on Friday.

Horne is the latest senior executive laid off at the studio as it conducts massive restructuring under CEO David Zaslav, following the much-protested June 20 axing of longtime TCM executives Anne Wilson, Dexter Fedor and Genevieve McGillicuddy.

In a worrying trend, a number of DEI execs have also exited in recent weeks at other studios, including Netflix’s Vernā Myers and Disney’s Latondra Newton.

Horne’s departure was announced internally on Wednesday, per an L.A. Times report published Friday. She was SVP of diversity, equity and inclusion in North America, having joined the company in March 2020.

The company’s DEI program will still be led by Discovery’s chief global diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Asif Sadiq. In a memo to staffers obtained by TheWrap, he wrote that Horne’s departure was part of a reorganization and a “new approach” to DEI initiatives.

Sadiq wrote that the company is shifting to “designated leads who are tasked solely with employee-related initiatives in each region,” in contrast to Horne’s “broad DE&I portfolio beyond employee-related initiatives.”

He praised her work and announced the company would be looking at “internal and external candidates” to take over the vacated position.

“As you know, Karen is a talented executive who is committed to our shared goals of creating an even more inclusive company and an accessible and equitable industry. I thank Karen for the important role she played in establishing a strong foundation while integrating the legacy companies’ teams and programs, and wish her the very best,” he wrote.

He also announced they are seeking a new group vice president and that there is still an open director position in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“Importantly, these changes do not alter our commitment to or our plans for pipeline programs and content-driven initiatives — these are fundamental pillars of our DE&I strategy and will continue to be areas of investment and focus. Grace Moss and Yvette Urbina will continue to report to me directly while working closely with the regional teams,” he concluded.